Review: Compagnie XY Proves Its Strength Is Working Together
By Sheila Kogan, Contributing Writer, July 20, 2017
Compagnie XY is a French-based circus, but there’s no big top, no trapeze rig, no spangled leotards nor wild animals. Instead, it is a troupe of individuals with extraordinary abilities and exquisite training who develop theatrical programs that amaze and amuse. The company’s latest program, N’est Pas Encore Minuet (It’s Not Yet Midnight) is being presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.
The performers arrived on stage casually, wearing ordinary street clothes, and began to push each other around, culminating in a mass choreographed brawl. Eventually making peace, they began to work together. The significance of this action became apparent at the end of the performance: Compagnie XY is a collaborative ensemble and they all work together to create their programs, and, of course, must also get along to be able to do the wonderful feats of athleticism they display.
Once they began to work peaceably and with good cheer, they performed the most amazing displays of balance and acrobatic skill. The audience was of one voice, gasping or saying: “ooh” or “ah” and applauding. Sometimes there was a sense of nervousness as the audience murmured and worried together, watching human towers being built with company members standing on each another’s shoulders up to the height of the proscenium arch or higher. Considering the reality of gravity, there was always the chance that someone could fall with disastrous results, but that didn’t seem to concern anyone onstage.
There was music—sometimes providing melody for dancing, sometimes just rhythm. When there was silence, it actually heightened the drama. The lighting design was not the typical harsh light of the big top, but was more theatrical and created dramatic effects as well.
But overall, the drama was created by the extraordinary feats of acrobatic skill, performed seemingly with ease. There was the most unusual vision of two-leveled bodies dancing in patterns. Sometimes someone was tossed from a two-bodied figure to another. Flying across the stage, somersaulting in the air, one, two, three revolutions, landing securely atop two others—truly acts of wonder. A see-saw apparatus was brought in, catapulting the acrobats even higher or further. Although some of the female acrobats may have been smaller in stature, these women were obviously strong and and able to hold their own—or several others on their shoulders!
The little over an hour-length performance was simply breathtaking; an exhibition of physical prowess, truly amazing balance, and complete disregard for gravity. Without the use of nets or tethers and with a minimum of equipment, these surefooted individuals depended completely on one another. The trust element and working collaboratively is at the core company’s philosophy.
Bringing the performance to a close, one of the members came out and read a speech in English describing the collective organization and its philosophy in this time of selfishness and international discord. She ended her speech with the company motto: “Alone we go faster, but together we go further.” Bravo to all.
Compagnie XY in N’est Pas Encore Minuet as part of the Lincoln Center Festival presented at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall on July 19-22, 2017. Artistic collaboration: Loïc Touzé, David Gubitch, Valentin Mussou, Emmanuel Dariès; acrobatics collaborator: Nordine Allal; lighting design by Vincent Millet; costume design by Nadia Léon; Lindy Hop instructors: Aude Guiffes, Philippe Mencia.
Acrobats: Abdeliazide Senhadji, Airelle Caen, Alice Noël, Amaia Valle, Andres Somoza Serrano, Antoine Thirion, Antonio Terrones y Hernandez, Aurore Liotard, Charlie Vergnaud, David Badia Hernandez, David Coll Povedano, Evertjan Mercier, Guillaume Sendron, Gwendal Beylier, Jeremie Robert, Mohamed Bouseta, Mikis Matsakis, Pierre Le Gouallac, whoRomain Guimard, Soen Geirnaert, Thibaut Berthias, Thomas Samacoïts, and Zinzi Oegem.
Cover: Company XY; photo: Christophe Raynaud de Lage.